Flexible Flyers: Companies Race to Equip Warplanes for Quick Modification

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July 18, 2016 | Originally published by Date Line: July 18 on

Pentagon leaders have long lamented insurgents” ability to produce new weapons and tactics faster than the U.S. military could react. Now defense firms are responding with aircraft designed to evolve as quickly as the modern battlefield. The trend, on full display at this week”s Farnborough Air Show, mirrors Defense Secretary Ash Carter”s push to develop new and surprising capabilities for exisitng U.S. weapons. Take the SPYDR, built by L-3 Communications. Based on the Beechcraft King Air, it resembles the C-12 intelligence plane, with ridged antennas and bulbous domes protruding from its body and wings. But while the Army and Air Force C-12s are generally built to collect specific types of intelligence and cannot be easily reconfigured, the SPYDR is designed to easily accept different types of cameras, antennas and radars — whatever the day”s mission requires.

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